PHILOSOPHY of RELIGION
THE GOD, EXISTENCE, NOTION AND ATTRIBUTES
Philosophy of Religion is made of two words – Philosophy and Religion. So, in order to understand the philosophy of Religion we have to understand separately the ‘Philosophy’ and the ‘Religion’.
As far as Religion is concerned, then as we pronounce this word, a few personalities highlight in front of us, who are equipped with rites and rituals and perform specific activities in their routine life. That’s why we call them as saint or priest etc. But this is not the complete meaning of religion but only expresses the partial sense, which also can’t be ignored because on this partial meaning of religion we can separate one religion from other. So, we can say the religious plurality is due to this external meaning of religion and on this basis number of religious struggles took place in human history. Altogether we can say that externally it appears that one religion is different from other, but even then this is also a fact that we call all of them as religion itself. So, there must be some similarities between them and this could be known as the internal features of the religion, which are –
- To believe in supernatural, transcendental and spiritual existence.
- To do worship of this absolute reality.
- To believe that the places, objects, scripts related to that absolute reality are holy.
- To get rid of sufferings, because in all the religions this assurance has been given
. So in order to clarify more the term Religion we can say that –
- It is supposed to be a tendency which influences the human life.
- This tendency can’t be originated for a simple object or individual.
- If once originated then emotional features start its domination and rational features become secondary.
- The object or individual for which this tendency has been originated, man is totally Committed for them and not ready to compromise at all.
Therefore we can say that if we combine the external and internal features then altogether religion has three features –
- Firstly the theoretical features, in which we can include the suppositions, beliefs etc.
- Secondly the emotional features in which we can include worship, prayer etc.
- Thirdly, the pragmatic or practical features which includes the methods of worship,
After above clarification of religion, we also have to know the etymological meaning of religion. Actually, the word Religion has been originated from the term “RELIGARE” which stands for unification. So, it has a constructive sense that’s why the ultimate objective of Religion is to connect or to unite, for example-To connect man to man and to connect devotee and God.
In Sanskrit language, The Religion is named as “DHARMA” which has been originated from ‘Dhri” (Dhatu of Sanskrit) which means to adopt. This is also the constructive sense of religion. So, anybody having destructive approach is not supposed to be a religious.
As far as Philosophy is concerned, It is made of two words – PHILOS and SOPHIA. The PHILOS stands for love and SOPHIA means knowledge. So, the actual meaning of Philosophy is love of knowledge and no knowledge is possible without rational activity. That’s why REASON is base of philosophy. In Sanskrit language, it has been named as DARSHAN which is originated from “DRISH” (Dhatu of Sanskrit) which means “To See” or “To Look” but here we have to look at the essence of the things which also indicates towards the deep knowledge. That’s why when we do research in any subject the degree we get is Ph.D. (Doctor of philosophy). Therefore, in order to define the philosophy, we can say that it is a rational activity by which we do the deep study of any subject and by the use of our understanding we analyse the facts of that subject through logical analysis and draw our conclusions on the basis of scientific temper, logic and reasoning as well.
After clarifying the religion and the philosophy, we come to know that the base of religion is faith, while in contrary; the base of philosophy is Reason. If faith comes into action then the Reason has no ground to play and if Reason comes into action then faith has no ground to play. So, we can say that no body can claim to be religious and philosopher simultaneously because if somebody is religious then he can’t be a philosopher and vice-versa.
Now, if we try to understand the philosophy of religion then we can say that it is the rational and logical study of religious theories, suppositions, beliefs etc. Simply, we can say that the philosophy of religion evaluates the religions facts. That’s why as the philosophy of science is not the science and philosophy of history is not the history, similarly the philosophy of religion is not the religion. So, we can say that philosophy of religions shall not be considered as Theology, because they are totally different –
|Philosophy of Religion||Theology|
|1. Related to all religions||1. Related to specific or one religion.|
|2. Scope is extended.||2. Scope is limited or restricted.|
|3. Rational feature dominates.||3. Emotional features dominates.|
|4. Reason is the base.||4. Faith is the base.|
|5. Analysis and evaluation of||5. Collection and publication of religious facts. religious facts.|
|6. Second order function.||6. First order function.|
Now the question is, what the utility of philosophy of Religion is? Answer is,multidimensional –
- To know the real features of religion.
- To do the rational study of religion.
- To do the correct translation of religion.
- To keep ourselves away from mis-interpretation of religion.
- To reduce the communal and religious tensions.
- To maintain the communal harmony.
- To get free from ostentations, malpractices, Dogmas etc.
After getting through the philosophy of religion, we can say that each and every religion is having its different beliefs and their spiritual and transcendental existences may also be different. In other words, the highest and absolute reality of different religious may be different but it is also a fact that to believe in a spiritual existence is also an essential part of the religion. So, first and foremost problem of philosophy of religion belongs to this, which is commonly known as problem of God. This problem can also be classified in three parts –
- Existence of God
- Notions of God
- Attributes of God and his relation with man and the world.
As far as Existence of God is concerned then generally, the term existence means under the reach of our perception and knowledge. This is supposed to be the objective existence and that’s why we can’t make any doubt over the existence of material objects because we can see, touch, know and even use them. These material objects are enjoying their existence independent to us. This is none but a concrete existence and when a religious person believes in the existence of God, then he says that God is also enjoying such concrete, objective existence and independent to us as well. In addition, the religious people impose the highest qualities in the God; Such as Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Eternity, Infinity etc. So, whatever qualities are belonging to human beings in limited sense has been imposed in the God in the extreme sense. That’s why the religious God is supposed to be humanistic.
Further, the religious people will say that such a God is beyond, our perception and sensitive knowledge. Now, the problem arises because how can we believe in such an existence which is beyond our perception and knowledge? Actually, this problem is not for the religious person because he will believe in such an existence on the basis of his faith. But a philosopher can’t do so because the base of philosophy is Reason and understanding. So, a philosopher will ask for logic and argument behind any such existence. Now, the ball will go in the court of Religion and it will be responsibility of religions people to give the arguments for the existence of God or to prove the existence of God. But here we have to be careful that such a God must be religious, who can satisfy the religious feelings.
As far as, Arguments for the existence of God is concerned, then the arguments given in favour of existence of God can be classified in two parts – Firstly the Empirical arguments which is based upon our experience and Secondly the Apriori arguments which are not based upon our experience. The empirical arguments can also be classified into four parts –
- COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
- TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
- MORAL ARGUMENT
- ARGUMENT BASED UPON RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
While the Apriori argument has one and only type, which named as ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT.
If we establish an interrelation among the above arguments, then we can say that the ontological argument only wants to proves the existence of God while cosmological argument wants to prove that God is not only existing, but he is the ultimate cause of the world. Teleological argument wants to prove that God is not only existing and ultimate cause but the founder of the system as well. Moral argument wants to prove that God is also the founder of the morality in the world. Argument based on religious experiences wants to prove that God is not only existing, cause and founder of system and morality but he could be subject matter of our perception as well which is known as the Religious experience.
As far as COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT is concerned, then in this argument efforts have been made to prove the existence of God on the basis of the Cosmos or the world that’s why it is known as cosmological argument, in which the existence of God has been proved on the basis of the material world and its objects. This argument is also known as causal argument because in this argument the God is supposed to be the first and prime cause of the world. This argument is supported by both western and Indian thinkers. Among the western thinkers, in addition to the Greek thinkerAristotle and the medival Saint Thomas Aquinus, the modern thinkers like Descartes and Leibnitz can also be included while in Indian philosophy the schools like Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Vedanta etc. have supported this argument.
The essence of the cosmological argument is that it is the law of science that every effect has a cause but if we proceed in the direction of cause then how long we can go because ultimately we will be grabbed by the fallacy of infinite rigerous. If we want to keep away our self from this fallacy then we have to believe that there is a first or final or prime cause which has no cause. This first cause can be named as the God.
This cosmological argument was firstly systematically presented by the medival Saint ThomasAquinas. In his book “SUMMATHEOLOGICA” he presented five arguments, in which three are the most important –
- Argument based on motion.
- Argument based on contingency
- Argument based on causation.
As far as argument based on motion is concerned, then it was firstly presented by the Greek thinkerAristotle, in which he said that in order to explain the cause of the motion of the objects of the world, the fallacy of infinite rigorous will occur. It we want to escape from this fallacy then we have to believe that there is an ultimate Mover of the world which is Unmoved in it. This Unmoved Mover is named as “God” byAristotle. But this argument based upon motion is not satisfactory because we do know that only a moving object can move the other, so the concept of Unmoved Mover is contradictory in itself. Further, Even if we accept this argument then hardly we can prove an ultimate cause of the motion but not the God, who can satisfy the religious feelings.
As far as arguments based upon contingency is concerned, then it was mainly supported by the thinkers like Leibnitz, Descartes, John Caird etc. and the essence of this argument is that all the objects of the world are contingent or accidental or temporary or we can say that they are the depending beings. So, in order to explain these entities we are bound to accept a necessary existence, permanent existence, eternal existence which must be self existent being, which could be none other than the God. But against this argument based on contingency the analytical thinkers of twentieth century have said that the necessity is relevant only in the respect of analytical propositions such as the statements of mathematics, geometry and logic are suppose to be necessary. For example, Traingle has three sides, 2+2=4, etc. In other words according to the analytical thinkers no existence can suppose to be necessary. In addition if the theologists want to explain the contingent objects of the world on the basis of necessary God then the question is on which basis they will explain the existence of God? Definitely, they will say that there is no need to explain the existence of God. But this answer is not satisfactory as well, because the rejection of the explanation of any existence is the rejection of existence itself. And if there is no need to explain the existence of God, then what is the need to explain the existence of the world and how we can believe that the contingent objects of the world can be explained on the basis of necessary God. So, the argument based upon contingency doesn’t provide sufficient ground to believe in the existence of God.
As far as argument based on causation is concerned, then it is based upon the law of science, in which we believe that there must be a cause behind the effect. Here also, the first cause or prime cause is necessary against the protection of fallacy of infinite rigorous. This argument was more strongly presented by Leibnitz who had presented in the form of Law of Sufficient Cause, in which he said that every effect has a sufficient cause. For example, potter is sufficient cause of the pitcher and carpenter is sufficient cause of table, but the question is, who could suppose to be sufficient cause of the world? Since the world doesn’t look like the creation of human brain or human activity, that’s why we have to believe in God as the sufficient cause of the world?
But in order to evaluate the argument based upon causation we can say that in this argument, the world has taken as an object and the God is assumed as its sufficient cause, but this is the wrong way of thinking because the world is not a single object but it is a cluster of the objects and different objects may have their different sufficient causes. In order to criticize this argument of causation, the great German thinker Kant said that the law of cause and effect is applicable only upto the material world. So, any conclusion regarding God as a transcendental existence can’t be accepted at all.
Another, modern thinker David Hume even criticized the law of causation itself. Further, it is also possible that the cause might be ended after the creation of the effect, which we normally do perceive in our practical life. But it will not be accepted by the theologists because they believe in the religious God who is permanent, eternal and enjoying the highest qualities as well. But this kind of God can not be proved on the basis of arguments based upon causation. So, finally we can say that on the basisof the Cosmological argument we can’t prove the existence of the religious God.
As far as TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT is concerned, then it is also an important argument presented by the religious thinkers to prove the existence of God. The word teleological is originated from the word “Telos”, which means system or order, that’s why in the teleological argument the existence of God is proved on the basis of system or order of the world. The essence of this argument is that we can see a proper system or order every where in the world and this is our common sense that behind each and every system there must be a regulator or founder. So who can suppose to be the regulator of the system established in the world or Cosmos? It can’t suppose to be the work of a human brain. So, there must be a superhuman existence behind it and he is none other than the God.
Sometimes the teleological argument is supposed as similar to the Cosmological argument but actually they are different because in cosmological argument, efforts have been made to prove the existence of God on the basis of first cause, while in teleological argument, efforts have been made to prove the existence of God on the basis of order or systems established in the world. So, we can say that it is extended form of Cosmological argument. Number of thinkers have presented and supported the teleological argument and the prominent thinkers are –
F.R. Tennent presented the teleological argument in his book ‘Classical Theology’and said that we can see the minor or narrow system in the world as well as the broader system. If we do imagine the existence of God on the basis of minor system of the world such as pitcher, table etc., then it is not correct because all these systems can suppose to be established by the human beings, but if we look after the Cosmos then we can see number of broader or larger systems in the world. Such as placement and motions of the planets, changes in weather, season, day-night etc. These broader systems can’t suppose to be the activity of human brain. So, we can easily assume the existence of God behind the founder of all these broader systems.
But the main propounder or supporter of Teleological argument was William Paley who has presented his argument in his book ‘Natural Theology’ published in 1803. In his book, he presented an analogical argument and said that if you are going in a desert and having a watch overthere, then you will see the system of the watch and soon after looking the system you will imagine a Watchmaker and his motives or objectives behind. But on the other hand, after looking a nearby stone or wooden stick you will not imagine in that way because you will look no system over here. So according to Paley as we can imagine about the watch maker on the basis of system of the watch, similarly we can easily imagine about the God after looking at the system of the Cosmos. Further, Paley said that if the watch is not working properly then also the existence of Watchmarker can’t be rejected and even if somebody did not ever see the watch then also the existence of Watchmaker can’t be rejected as well. So according to Paley, if there is any lacking in the cosmos, then also we can’t reject the existence of God.
In the mid of 19th century, Darwin published his book ‘Origin of Species’ and established the theory of evolution. So, the importance of Paley’s argument was reduced. But then after James Martineau defended Paley’s argument in his book ‘A study of Religion’, in which Martineau said that even if we look after the animates or species of the world, then also we can see a kind of selection, combination and gradation among their organs, living conditions and living places. All these things can be explained only on the basis of God.
Further, in 20th centuryA.l. Brown presented his teleological argument in his book ‘The footprints of God’ in which he did his effort to prove the existence of God on the basis of ozone layer placed in the stratosphere and said that it is intentionally established or placed by the God to absorb the ultravioletic rays of the sun and to make the life possible on the earth.
Apart from the above thinkers, number of thinkers of western and Indian philosophy presented and supported the teleological argument. In Indian philosophy, this argument is mainly supported by the schools like Nyaya-Vaisheshika, Vedanta, etc.
Now, if we evaluate the telelogical argument then the empiricist thinker of modern western philosophy David Hume was totally against this kind of analogical argument. According to Hume, these kind of analogical arguments, existence of religious God can’t be proved at all, because in opinion of the Hume, this cosmos is an accidental success in infinite number of possibilities. As we can’t imagine a bird without wings, similarly we can’t imagine a Cosmos without system because without proper system and order, the Cosmos or the world can’t suppose to be sustained. Hume also presented his criticism on the basis of two pans of the scale. In addition, the analogical arguments are always probable, so on this basis only the probability of the God could be proved, but not the certain and necessary existence. Even if we believe in the teleological argument then after looking the lacking and Evils of the world we can’t say that God is a skilled regulator. In order to criticize the teleological argument, Darwin said that the philosophy of evolutionism can’t be explained on the basis of teleological argument.
So, we can say that number of objections can be raised against the teleological argument as well and it also can’t give sufficient evidence to prove the existence of a religious God. But even after having number of short comings the importance of teleological argument is, it has attracted number of intellectuals in addition to the religious people, because number of times this curiosity originates in our mind that how the system of the world is going on? That’s why even a rational German thinker, Kant had some respect for this argument.
As far as MORAL ARGUMENT is concerned, then it is also one of the important proofs given for the existence of God, in which efforts have been made to prove the existence of God on the basis of morality or moral experience and the essence of the argument is, if we want to explain the morality in the world then we have to believe in the existence of God. This argument is also supported by number of western and Indian thinkers. Among the western thinkers, in addition to Kant, Martineau, Rashdall, Baillie, Trubllood etc can be named, but, Kant is supposed to be the main propounder and supporter of this argument.
As far as Kantian approach for the God is concerned, then Kant had criticized all the rational arguments given in favour of existence of God because according to Kant, since we don’t have any sensitive perception of God, then we shall not apply our understanding or rationality on the God. But it doesn’t mean that Kant didn’t believe in the existence of God, because Kant has believed in the existence of God on the basis of morality and even said that morality can’t be explained without the God. That’s why Kant believes in the existence of God as a postulate of morality.
As far as Kantian ethics is concerned, then it is based upon five terminologies as Goodwill, Moral laws, Duty for duty sake, Resultlessness, Categorical imperative. These are not the different terms but more or less supposed to be similar because they indicate towards the same action in certain conditions. That’s why Kant has precisely stated that any individual who is doing his action on the basis of Goodwill is definitely morally superior. According to Kant, this goodwill is one and only good in itself in the whole cosmos and it is the Highest Good as well.Therefore Kant has given priority to the Goodwill over the other virtues like intellect, knowledge, courage, control etc. Altogether, we can say that since Kant has associated the Goodwill with the resultless ness and duty for duty sake, that’s why there, is no place of happiness. Here it appears that Kant has devaluated the happiness and has become a rigorous philosopher, but this is not the reality at all, because actually Kant has overevaluated the happiness and that’s why even after saying that the Goodwill is the Highest Good, Kant says that it is not supposed to be Complete Good at all. This Complete Good is definitely superior and Happiness is available in it because the Kantian equation is:—
COMPLETE GOOD = GOODWILL + HAPPINESS
Because according to Kant, it is the demand of the Morality that if any individual is doing his action on the basis of Goodwill must have the positive outcome accordingly. But the question is who could synthesize the Happiness with Goodwill? Definitely, it is not possible by the human being and the objects of the world so, it can be synthesized only by the GOD. So, we have to believe in the existence of God. This is the Moral Argument presented by Kant to prove the existence of God.
In addition to Kant, so many other western thinkers also supported the moral argument for the existence of God –
- Martineau in his book “Types of Ethical Theories” said that we can’t ignore the moral ideals and moral perfectness. But no human being in the world can suppose to be morally perfect. So, this moral perfectness could only be explained on the basis of God.
- Rashdall in his Book “Theory of God and Evil” said that moral laws are not supposed to be subjective but they are objective. So, this objectivity of morality can only be explained on the basis of God and God is supposed to be the founder of objective Moral laws.
- Trublood in his book “Philosophy of Religion” said that animates who don’t have the mind or rationality are not the subject matter of morality at all, that’s why there is no morality for the Animals. But there are all kinds of moralities for the human beings having mind and rationality, but we also know that morality doesn’t depend upon our mind or our rationality. So, it can only be explained on the basis of super mind which can suppose to belong to the God only.
In addition to the above thinkers, the western thinkers like Baillie, Neumann, Cardinal etc. have also supported the moral argument for the God and said that the call of our conscience or inner sense is always moral and it is the sound of God.
As far as, INDIAN PHILOSOPHICAL SCHOOLS are concerned, then the moral argument is greatly supported by them as well because the Karma theory is the back bone of Indian philosophy and the theory of outcome of the action can only be explained on the basis of God.
Now, if we evaluate the moral arguments for the existence of God, then First of all, this is not supposed to be a rational argument but only depending upon faith and Morality, which is subjective and we can’t prove the objective God on the basis of subjectivity. That’s why even Kant himself said that I am not giving a rational or logical argument but making just a relative or hypothetical statement that if there is any morality in the world then we have to believe in the existence of God. So, it is just advisory one to believe in the existence of God. Further, if God gives the outcome of the action and prizes and punishments accordingly, then human beings will start doing their actions with the fear of punishment and in the greed of prizes. In this condition, the RESULTLESSNESS of the morality will be affected. Finally God can’t be proved on the basis of call of conscience or inner sense because we can explain this call of conscience on the basis of environment in which a human being grows up and in the parents, teachers and the persons who influenced the human beings as well.
Therefore, we can say, the Moral arguments also can’t be able to prove the existence of religious God.
As far as arguments based on the RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE is concerned, then it is also a proof given for the existence of God, the base of which is the religious experience received by the religious people in which they claim to have the knowledge of activity and creativity of the God. According to religious people the religious experience is different from general experience because where the subject matter of general experience are materialistic, then on the other hand, the subject matter of religious experience are spiritual like the God and his activities. That’s why the argument based upon the religious experience becomes important for the existence of God. In which the people having the religious experience said that as the common people do the sensitive perception of material objects in their general experience, similarly, in the religious experiences religious people do have the knowledge of God. So, it is a sufficient evidence to prove the existence of the God because the logic of religious people is, if we ask the common people to reject the existence of material objects that definitely, they will not accept it at all, because they do have the objective knowledge of the material objects. So in this condition if the religious people claim to have the same kind of objective knowledge of the God, then how they can reject the existence of God. Therefore we have two options, either to reject the concept of religious experience or to accept the existence of God. Since, the first option can’t be accepted so, we are bound to accept the second one. This is the argument based upon religious experience for the existence of God.
Further, according to the supporters of the argument based upon religious experience, the people who have claimed to receive such kinds of religious experiences can’t suppose to be foolish, stupid or mentally retard, because through their thoughts and activities they have won the support of the common and rational human beings. In addition, the receivers of the religious experiences can not be called cheater or deceiver etc, because they have lived quite a simple and peaceful life. But we have to be careful about the argument based upon religious experiences that this kind of experience can’t be directly received by the common people, but they can only share it indirectly, through the receiver of the religious experience who reveals his feelings in their autobiographies and stories etc. These instances are available in numbers in religious scripts. The main supporters of the argument based upon the religious experience in the western philosophy can be named as Bergeson, Otto, Farmer, Beillie, Stace, etc. According to these thinkers, if the rational arguments for the existence of God are not sufficient to prove the existence of God, then in this condition, preference could be given to the argument based upon religious experience which is based upon the faith. Number of supporter of this argument have shared their experience in their books and articles.
- Bergson in his book “TWO SOURCES OF MORALITY” said that the ultimate object of the whole creation is to make a contact with God and to realize the creativity of the God, even in partial sense.
- Otto in his book “THE IDEA OF THE HOLY” said that the religious and mystical experience of the God is unique and can’t be expressed in words.
- Farmer in his book “TOWARDS BELIEF IN GOD” said that the people, who have no faith in God, can’t understand the proof of religious experience.
- Baillie in his book “OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD” said that the mystical experience of the God is beyond every logic and argument.
- Stace in his book “MYSTICISM AND PHILOSOPHY” said that the religious experience of the God can’t be expressed in language because it is a mean to express the general experience and that’s why whenever we do our effort to express them in genral language, then the contradiction is obvious.
After looking the argument based upon the religious experience if we evaluate the argument, then we can raise number of points against it and the first and foremost question is what the religions experience is? The supporters of the above argument will say that religious experience is the experience of God. But here the existence of God has already been accepted. Secondly, the religious experience is subjective. So, on this basis, we can’t prove the existence of an objective God. If the religious experience of two persons is different, and they are claiming to have the different knowledge, then we have no parameter to decide that who is right and who is wrong? On one hand, the supporters of religious experience have said that it is unique and un-explicable and on the other hand, they have even tried to describe it. Finally, there are number of religious people who suppose to get the religious knowledge but didn’t discuss over the God. Even if we do believe in the argument based upon religious experiences then also it is not suppose to provide the sufficient evidence which can prove the existence of such a God, who can satisfy the religious feelings.
So we can say, the argument based upon the religious experience also couldn’t prove a religious God logically and rationally. That’s why common, people suppose that the religious experience is totally unscientific, irrational, illogical, etc. but the religious people do place the religious experiences at very high.
AS far as ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT is concerned, then to prove the existence of God both empirical and apriori arguments have been presented and we have already discussed over four empirical arguments, but none of them could prove the existence of religious God in logical and rational manner, That’s why an apriori argument was also presented to prove the existence of the God. This argument is not based upon experience but on the pure logic. One and only ontological argument has been placed in this category. None of the Indian schools and thinkers supported this argument. So, it was mainly supported and presented by the western thinkers.
The first phase of the argument supposed to be started in medieval period when a medieval saint ANSELM presented this argument systematically. In his argument, ANSELM did all efforts to prove the existence of God through the idea of the God. In order to present the argument in his book ‘PROSLOGIAN’ Anselm said that if we start thinking about the ideas then the highest and supreme idea comes in our mind is definitely the God. Whatever effort we can do but we can’t think about the idea superior than the God. So, we can say that the God is the highest idea. But in this case, he must be perfect and if he is perfect then he must be existing as well. Otherwise, he will have the lacking of the existence which will affect the perfectness of the God.
In other words, it will be a contradiction if we say that God is the highest and supreme idea but not existing. So, the existence of the God can be proved on the basis of the idea of the God. Anselm’s argument can be presented symbolically in this manner that if we have two ideas X and Y, in which X is only mental but not physical while Y is both mental and physical then definitely the idea of Y is superior than the X and if the God is the highest idea, then it can’t be placed in this category of the X, because the higher idea Y is possible. So, the God atleast can be placed in Y category which shows that God is not only mental but also enjoying its physical existence as well. Therefore the existence of the God can be proved on the basis of the idea of the God. Further, Saint Anselm said that we impose highest qualities in the God as well, such as omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent etc. We also suppose that the God is permanent, eternal, infinite, unlimited etc. which indicates that there is no beginning and end of the God. So, such a God must be existing.
But even in the time of Anselm, another thinker Gaunilon criticized the argument and said that thought and existence are totally different and we can’t prove any existence on the basis of thought. In order to give his example Gaunilon said that if we think about an Island which is most beautiful and perfect in all the aspects then could it supposed to be really existing? According to Gaunilon, not at all, similarly the existence of God can’t be proved on the basis of his idea and perfectness.
ButAnselm answered the criticism of Gaunilon and said that the thoughts or ideas could suppose to be accepted as a base of existence only for the transcendental existence like God because this kind of argument is not relevant to prove the existence of the material objects. So, the criticism of Gaunilon is not justified. Later on, another thinker PLANTINGA also supported Anselm’s view and said that there is no ultimate parameter of the beauty. So, we can imagine more beautiful island, imagined by Gaunilon. Altogether, we can say that during its first phase, the ontological argument was recognized by number of thinkers.
The second phase of the argument started in the modern western period during Seventeenth and Eighteenth century and in this phase main propounder of the argument was father of modern western philosophy and great mathematician Rene Descartes who had presented the ontological argument on the basis of mathematics. In his argument, Descartes said that as we think about a triangle, the existence of three sides and three angles is already proved; similarly as we think about the God the existence of the God is proved as well. In his philosophy, Descartes said that God is by birth or innate idea which is different from imaginary and accidental ideas because the innate or by birth idea must be true. So, the existence of God can be proved on the basis of the idea of the God. Even Descartes said that who could be supposed as the cause of the idea of the God? Neither the material objects nor the human being. So, the cause of the idea of the God is the God himself.
But in this Second phase of the argument great German thinker Immanuel Kant bitterly criticized the argument and firstly, said that thought and existence are two different things and we can’t prove the existence on the basis of the thought. In order to give his example, Kant said that suppose I think that some amount of money is present in my pocket; could it suppose to be really existing? Definitely not, so how we can prove the existence of God on the basis of his thought or idea? Secondly, Kant said that the existence and the predicate are different because when we mention the predicate as quality then we give new information about the subject. For example, Ram is honest. But on the other hand, if we use the existence then we don’t give any new information for example, Ram is. So, according to Kant, the supporters of ontological argument couldn’t recognize the difference between existence and quality.
Against Descartesian argument of traingle, Kant said that yes, it is right that the three sides and three angles can’t be rejected with the idea of the triangle. But there shall be no objection in the rejection of three sides and three angles with the idea of the trangle. Similarly, there is no objection, in the rejection of existence of God with the supreme idea of the God. Further, Kant said that we get the raw material of the knowledge through sensations which are scattered and disturbed. To get the shape of knowledge they must be systematized. This function is firstly done by space and time and finally by the categories of understanding. According to Kant, if we don’t have any sensation then we should not apply our understanding because if we do so then we would be grabbed by transcendental illusion. That’s why Kant said that since we don’t have any sensitive perception of the God then we should not apply our understanding on him because doing this will be resulted as transcendental illusion that’s why Kant had criticized each and every rational argument for the existence of God and named this transcendental illusion as Contradiction.
In addition to Kant numbers of analytical thinkers of twentieth century were also against this argument such as Russell, Ayer etc. According to these thinkers only analytical propositions are suppose to be necessarily true and we can’t discuss the necessity for any existence at all. That’s why these thinkers even supported the concept of elimination of Metaphysics.
Finally, to criticize the ontological argument for the existence of God an analogical argument has been given, in which we use to present the argument of the same form which can’t be accepted. This is an indirect way of rejection. Here the thinkers against the ontological argument said that if the supporters of ontological argument for the existence of the God prove the existence of the God on the basis of highest positive qualities of the God. Similarly, we can think about an omnipotent Devil that is having the highest negative qualities. Would the theologists accept such an omnipotent Devil and his existence? Definitely not, so in this case how the existence of the God could be accepted on the basis of highest positive qualities.
Altogether, we can say that neither the empirical arguments nor the apriori argument could prove the existence of religious God, logically and rationally. In other words, we can say that the existence of religious God can’t be proved. So, now we have to discuss over the question that could we prove the non-existence of the God? This thought is known as ATHEISM because atheists reject the existence of God. But after evaluation and analysis we come to know that the non-existence of God can’t be proved rationally as well because if we accept the atheist view then we have to believe thatAtheists have evaluated all the powers working behind the world in the cosmos, because if a single power is left out from this observation then it might be the God. ButAtheists are not supposed to be the knowner and observer of all the powers. So, they can’t prove the non-existence of the God.
Sometimes Atheists did their efforts to prove the non-existence of God on the basis of absence of direct knowledge of the God. But it is also not a sufficient ground because definitely, Knowledge does provide the sufficient evidence to prove the existence of something, but absence of knowledge can’t provide sufficient evidence for the nonexistence of something because the area of unknown is always larger than the area of known.
Above all, Atheists have no appropriate answer of a few questions as well such as how the world came into existence? And how the system of the world is running? Theists can give the answer of these questions on the basis of God. ButAtheists have no such option. That’s why a group of atheists will say that these kind of questions are meaningless and insignificant, but this answer can’t be acceptable at all because it is straight way repression of our rational curiosity. Other group of Atheists will say that the world is such a final effect which has no first cause. But this is also not reasonable because in the absence of first cause, how we can believe on the final effect? Another group of Atheists will say that the world is created by the natural substances and unconscious entities. But it is also unacceptable because we know that behind every creation conscious existence is necessary. Then how the world is supposed to be created by the material substances?
The problems for Atheists did not end over here because we know that sometimes human being in his life can come in crisis, depression, he may loose his confidence and self esteem as well. In this condition, Theists have an option to remotivate and reinspire the human being on the basis of God and they can say “Believe on God and do your Action” and definitely, you will have the positive outcome. ButAtheists have no such option and then they hardly can remotivate and reinspire the human being in the depression. They hardly can say that believe on your self but a man in depression, can’t believe on himself.
That’s why we can say that although it is a tough task to say that God is existing and proving the existence of God, but it is even tougher to say that the God is not existing and proving the non-existence of the God. Here, the approach of thinkers like DOSTOVYESKI and PASCAL is important.
DOSTOVYESKI is a Russian thinker of Nineteenth century who said in his philosophy that if the God does not exist then we have to give the validity to each and every action of the human beings, because in the absence of the God, we have no such parameter to decide that who is right and who is wrong? That’s why DOSTOVYESKI said that if the God does not exist then everything is permissible, but all these things go against the ethics and morality. So, if we want to maintain the morality in the world, then we have to believe in the existence of God.
While, According to PASCAL, since we don’t have any direct knowledge of God then we can’t say anything about the existence or non existence of the God with authorIty. But definitely, there are only two options that either the God does exist, Or the God does not exist. According to PASCAL, we also have two options as well either to believe in the existence of God, Or not to believe in the existence of God. So, altogether we have four options as below —
- God does not exist and we don’t believe in the existence of God. In this condition, God can’t create any problem for us.
- God does not exist and we do believe in the existence of God. In this condition also, God can’t create any problem for us.
- God does exist and we do believe in the existence of God. In this condition, God will not create any problem for us.
- God does exist and we don’t believe in the existence of God. In this condition, God may create problem for us.
So, altogether we would have problem only in the rejection of the existence of God. Therefore, if we want to keep away ourselves from the problems, then it is better to believe in the existence of God. This is known as GAME OF PASCAL.
Finally we can say that neither the existence of the God nor the non existence of God can be proved rationally. So, it’s totally depending upon the faith of the human being to believe or not to believe in the existence of God. Here the approach of Great German thinker Kant is relevant who although criticized all the rational arguments for the existence of God but even then he believed in the existence of God on the moral basis and said that if there is any kind of morality in the world then we have to believe in the existence of God.
Now, we have to switch over to the second problem regarding the God which is related to the NOTIONS OF THE GOD.
Although, we have already seen that the existence of religious God can’t be proved rationally. But even if we accept the existence of God, the problem has not been ended because the question is what the notion of the God is? Whether the God is personal, impersonal or naturalistic? Generally, the religious thinkers believed in personal notion of the God and have given their arguments as well.
We know that the God is the core of the religion so he must satisfy the religious feelings which could be satisfied only by the personal notion of the God. The theoretical, emotional and practical features of the religion can be explained only on the basis of the personal notion of the God. We know that the relation between God and Devotee is like worshipped and worshipper That’s why the qualities like kindness, tenderness, forgivingness etc. belong to the God. While the qualities like faith, sacrifice, devotion belong to the devotee. These conditions could be satisfied only by the personal notion of the God. We know that sometimes human being comes into the crisis and in this condition, the religious God does help the human beings which is possible only by the personal God. The qualities imposed in human beings are imposed the in God in extreme sense. So, if the human beings are personal then the God must be personal.
Finally, the personal notion of the God can be proved on the basis of metaphysical and moral qualities imposed in the God such as omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, infinite, eternal, permanent, kindness, forgivingness, justifiability etc. because these kind of qualities or attributes can belong only to the personal God.
In contrary to the personal notion of the God, a group of thinkers supported the Impersonal notions of the God and they also have given their arguments –
- Personality is a psychological term which means organization of mind and body and the God can’t suppose to be such an organization of mind and body. So, the God can’t suppose to be personal one.
- The term personality indicates towards limitation and to discuss about a limited God is actually making a joke of the God. That’s why the God is infinite and such God can’t be personal.
- The personal notion of God does humanization of God, so the difference between God and the human beings gets ended itself and the super naturality of the God gets destroyed as well. Further, in this condition we also have to believe that like human beings the God will also be affected by the Evil etc. But all these things are not compatible with the God.
- If we believe that the God is personal then he must be subject matter of our experience and in this condition the spirituality, supernaturality and the transcendental feature of God will be ended and the God will become a material object of the world.
- Finally the dichotomy of Soul and body continues with personality but in the God we can’t suppose such a dichotomy.
On the basis of above arguments a group of religious thinkers said that the religious God can’t be personal so he must be impersonal.
But after evaluating both the views we can say that whenever we discuss over the religious God, then it is really difficult to negate his personal notion because only a personal notion of God can satisfy the religious feelings. In addition appropriate answers of the questions like who is the creator and regulator of the world could be given only through the personal notion of God.
Altogether we can say that as the existence of the God can’t be proved rationally and the non-existence of the God can’t be proved as well, similarly the personal and impersonal notions of the God are also not the subject matter of reason and understanding but it depends upon faith.
In addition to the personal and impersonal notions of God, thinkers have also discussed over the naturalistic notions of God in which the nature and the naturalistic entities have been worshipped. Its instances are available in the early Vedic period of Indian tradition when the naturalistic entities like Sun, Moon, Planets had been worshipped and few of them are worshipped even today. Same instances are available in early Babylonia where the Heaven, the Earth and the Sea were worshipped in the form of ANU, BEL, EA respectively. Similarly in early Egypt the Sun was worshipped as RA that’s why the kings in the Egypt were known as FARAO which means Son of Sun.
Even in the philosophy there were so many thinkers who believed that the nature and naturalistic entities are the ultimate element. Its instances are available in early Greek period of western philosophy where the thinkers like, Thales, Aneximenies, and Heraclitus, supposed that the Water the Air and the Fire are the ultimate elements respectively. While in the modern western philosophy the thinkers like Spinoza said that God is Nature and Nature is God and made God and Nature identical.
But against naturalistic notion of God we can say that it encourages the agnosticism because whenever human beings didn’t have complete knowledge of nature and naturalistic entities then they recognized natural elements as God, but in order to do so the human freedom and knowledge is definitely gets affected upto an extent. That’s why as the human knowledge increased about the nature, the naturalistic concept of God has been rejected.
Now the question is in above three notions of God which is conducive to the concept of reincarnation?
Actually the concept of reincarnation is a supposition of Indian tradition in which it has been supposed that whenever the humanistic values were degraded and the sin or Evil increases in the world or whenever the devotee need the help of God then God took incarnation in the world and helped the human beings. It is also supported by Gita and number of reincarnations have been mentioned in Indian tradition for example Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha etc.
The Indian thinker who presented the best example of theism is “Ramanujacharya” who discussed over ‘Punchprakashna’ of the God (five types of demonstration of God) in which ‘Avatara and Archavatara’ are related to reincarnation, when the God incarnated himself in the conscious beings, then it is knows as ‘Avatara’ and whenever he reincarnated in unconscious and material means then it is known as ‘Archavatara’, but all these activities used to happen to help devotees and human beings. So we can say the concept of reincarnation is relevant only with the personal and naturalistic notions of the God.
Similar to the existence and the notion of the God the attributes imposed in the God are also the subject matter of discussion. Here mainly the metaphysical and moral qualities are imposed in the God.
As far as metaphysical attributes are concerned then in these attributes we include Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient etc.
As far as the attribute Omnipotent is concerned then it means all kinds of powers belong to the God that’s why the God is supposed to be Omnipotent. But it doesn’t mean that God can make impossible possible but it only means that God can do all kind of action which are rational and justifiable as well. That’s why according to the religious people God does only those actions which are compatible with other attributes of the God. But with the Omnipotent God the main problem is how the Evil originated and even existing in the world. So the Evil in the world counter balances the Omnipotent feature of the God. That’s why the problem of Evil is one of the important problems of philosophy of religion.
As far as the attribute Omnipresent is concerned then it is also a metaphysical quality imposed in the God which means the God is immanent in the world. But it doesn’t mean that the God is extended in the whole world or the God is available in all the space because the extension is the attribute of material bodies while the God is an spiritual entity, so in this condition the Omnipresence feature of the God just mention that the God is immanent in the whole world as the Soul is immanent in the whole body. Therefore, when we touch a part of the body then we can’t saythat we have touched the Soul, like-wise if we do the perception of an object of the world then we can’t say that we have done the perception of God and have got the knowledge of the God as well. But even then to satisfy the religious feelings the immanent God is necessary because no devotee would like such a God who is far away from him, that’s why only the immanent Omnipresent God can be worshipped.
As far as attribute Omniscient is concerned then it is also a metaphysical attribute imposed in the God in which it has been supposed that where the human knowledge is restricted and available only in the present time, then the knowledge of the God is complete, perfect, infinite and beyond the time as well. That’s why God is supposed to be the knower of past, present and future. Similarly the process of knowledge is also different because human process of knowledge is rational, logical, analytical where the dualism can be seen in the form of the knower and the knowing object. While the process of knowledge of God is simple, intuitive and identical where no distinction between knower and object can be seen.
All the above metaphysical attributes of God are inter-related and inter-dependent as well. Some times question has been raised that whether these metaphysical qualities do the humanization of the God? The answer of the religious people is negative because according to them these attributes are individual or private regarding the God and these attributes just highlight the nature of the God. That’s why in addition to the other metaphysical qualities the attributes like infinity, eternity, permanency etc. has also been imposed in the God.
Apart from the metaphysical qualities numbers of moral attributes are also imposed in the God, such as lovingness, kindness, tenderness, forgivingness, justifiability etc. All these moral attributes indicates towards the humanistic features of God because the lovingness and the kindness of the God just mention that the God is not Cruel, heartless or brutal but he has kind and mercy for all the animates of the world. While the Goodness of the God mentions that God has only the Good will and no Bad will belongs to the God. By justifiability the religious people wanted to say that the God does all efforts to maintain the justice and system in the world. All these moral qualities are the also the demand of religious consciousness.
Finally another question regarding the God is even if we believe in the existence of God then what kind of relation he has with the world and the man? Here when we discuss about his attributes and actions then we have to consider the different concepts of monotheism in which we should considerthoughts like. DEISM, PANENTHEISM, THEISM, PANTHEISM etc. All these thoughts look like the same but this is not the reality because they have different approaches for the different issues such as:—
- The concept of DEISM believes that God is only the efficient cause of the world and there is no material cause of the world because God has created the world from nothing. In addition in this concept God is supposed to be transcendent but not the immanent. Since the God is transcendent so in this concept distance has been supposed between Man and God.Here God is only the creator of the world but not Nourisher, Protector or Destroyer of world. God is personal as well, in this concept human being is supposed to be optimistic and using the freedom of will as well. Man is Good by nature but accidentally he goes in the direction of Evil.
- As far as PANENTHEISM is concerned then God is both material and efficient cause of the world and the God is both immanent and transcendent as well. God is Creator, Nourisher, Protector, Destroyer, everything. But in this concept God is supposed to be impersonal. Man is supposed as pessimist and freedom of will belongs to man the consequence of which we can see in both Good and Evil. Since the God is immanent in the world that’s why there is no distance between Man and the God.
- The concept of THEISM is similar to the Panentheism because in this concept also God is supposed as both material and efficient cause and he is also supposed as Creator, Nourisher, Protector and Destroyer. But in this concept God is supposed to be personal and the human being is reconciliation of both optimism and pessimism. It also believes in the freedom of will of man and also focuses upon Good and Evil and even says that the Evil gives lessons in life.
- In concept of PANTHEISM God is only supposed to be only the material cause of the world and in this condition he can only be immanent and that’s why he is not supposed to be the Creator, Nourisher, Protector and Destroyer. In this concept God is supposed to be impersonal. This thought is based upon determinism and there is no Evil in the world and there is no distance between man and God because he is immanent in the world.
After the detail explanation of God in order to sun up we can say –
- The subject matter of philosophy of religion is such a God who can satisfy the religious feelings.
- Such a religious God can’t be rationally proved.
- The non-existence of the God can’t be proved as well.
- There shall be no objection to accept the existence of God.
- There is dispute over the notions of God.
- Even then numbers of metaphysical and moral attributes have been imposed in the God.
- In order to explain the relation between the God, Man and the world different approaches have been expressed.